Enjoy nature for good mental health
Amanda Watson, of the Mental Health Foundation, imagines how Mother Nature would urge us all to get outside and enjoy life.
Hi, Mother Nature here – I think I owe you an apology.
I didn’t mean to catch you out in the rain when you were waiting for your bus. Also, sorry for the bird poo on your new top. Those mozzie bites may have been me too. I’ve been trying to get your attention because I’ve been feeling neglected. Children today spend less time with me than any generation in human history and most kids can identify more types of Pokemon than they can native birds!
Your increasingly sedentary, indoor lifestyles are not only going to wreak havoc with physical health, but your mental health is affected too. Nearly 50 per cent of New Zealanders will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and depression is set to overcome heart diseases as the biggest global health burden by 2020.
It’s not all doom and gloom though – evidence proves that connecting with me will make you feel happier, decrease feelings of depression and anxiety, improve concentration and buffer against stress. Just looking at me from a hospital bed has been shown to aid recovery from surgery.
The best part? I am everywhere. Although New Zealand has some of the best jewels I have to offer, you don’t have to travel the national parks or forests. You can feel the benefits by simply stepping out into your backyard to feel the grass beneath your feet or gazing up at the clouds in the sky.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation is calling for a national Lockout – that means they want you to jump off the world wide web and get amongst the spider webs!
So the gauntlet has been thrown, from October 10 to 16, come and hang out with me to feel all the magical benefits.
Need some ideas for how to connect with me during the lockout and beyond?
❚ Pack a picnic lunch or dinner and head to your nearest park or beach with your colleagues, friends of family.
❚ Jump on neighbourly.co.nz and invite those in your area over for a street BBQ.
❚ Take a photo walk – explore your neighbourhood with your phone or camera and take pictures of an unexpected splash of colour, birds, native trees and pretty flowers.
❚ Use natural material to make art – think seaweed, shell, sand and flowers.
❚ Take advantage of daylight savings and head outside after school or work to play frisbee, catch or spotlight.
❚ Volunteer at an organised beach clean-up or do your own. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and keep Aotearoa beautiful! For more ideas and to find out about events happening near you throughout Mental Health Awareness Week visit mhaw.nz. There’s also free merchandise you can order for your school or workplace as well as some competitions you can enter to win some awesome prizes! Be sure to check out #MHAWNZ on social media too.
All ages can enjoy getting back to nature.